Insider Flags Up FCoE's Prospects

Report looks at Fibre Channel over Ethernet's strengths and weaknesses

March 8, 2008

2 Min Read
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Although still in its infancy, Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) is shaping up to extend the reach of Fibre Channel SANs and boost users' virtualization deployments.

According to the latest Byte and Switch Insider report, FCoE can overcome some limitations of Fibre Channel SANs and help users' virtualization strategies.

"FCoE can reduce the cabling at the back of the server and elsewhere in the SAN, particularly if it is used as the basis for the entire network," states report author Martin Courtney. "This reduces the expense in expanding data-center facilities or building new ones."

Better use of virtualization, which is accelerating network throughput, is another big benefit of FCoE, according to the report: "FCoE over 10-Gbit/s Ethernet is better able to handle that demand than current 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel technology."

By allowing Fibre Channel traffic to be transported over Ethernet networks, FCoE is already being touted by vendors such as QLogic, Sun, and Emulex as a way to better unify I/O in data center networks.Qlogic, for instance, has already predicted that some 10 percent of SAN ports will be FCoE-enabled by 2010, even though the protocol is not expected to be technically complete until sometime in the April to June time frame. Qlogic is also predicting that all Global 2000 companies will be using FCoE by 2012, even though the earliest production shipments of gear are slated for the second half of this year.

Despite this vendor optimism, there are hurdles for CIOs and IT managers to overcome before they deploy FCoE.

As with any new technology, users have already voiced their concern about hidden costs and complications associated with FCoE, something which is also discussed in the report.

Storage managers will have to buy a new FCoE converged network adapter for each server they want to connect into a unified network, as well as FCoE-enabled switches, and/or gateways, according to the report. Further, users also face the expense of 10-Gbit/s Ethernet cabling.

Pricing details of the FCoE products themselves remain unknown, although there have been some hints that vendors are looking to keep cost out of the equation in order to foster greater adoption.This could be a shrewd move, and the report warns that FCoE component prices will need to be in line with existing data center technologies.

Companies covered in this report include:

Get more details and/or purchase the report here.

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